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Some businesses ‘hanging on by a thread’

Some businesses ‘hanging on by a thread’
National’s education and immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford Photo Jonathan Leask

New Zealand losing war for staffing talent, warns MP

Staffing shortages will persist because of immigration barriers during a “worldwide war for talent”, National’s Erica Stanford has warned Mid Canterbury residents.
Stanford came to Ashburton to meet with business owners and hold a public meeting on the labour shortage crisis.
The rural sector was up in arms last summer as they struggled to get skilled workers into the country to help complete the harvest, while hospitality and accommodation struggled to recruit the staff to match the returning surge of tourists this winter.
Stanford said those problems persisted and aren’t limited to one industry.
“Everyone thought that once our borders were open this year this problem would disappear,” she said.
“Not with the immigration settings we have.
“We have had another year of these persistent skills shortages and I feel like looking to next year that isn’t going to change.”
The country is “stuck in a wage-price spiral” that is only exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis, she said.
Business owners and workers across the country are working extremely long hours to try and make ends meet, she said.
“We can’t keep doing this.
“I worry about these business owners because I meet them every day of the week and they are hanging on by a thread.”
The solution is “serious policy changes in immigration to start getting people into the country more quickly”.
The barriers are making New Zealand not competitive with countries such as Australia and Canada.
“We are in a worldwide war for talent.
“We need to pull out all the stops to bring in workers.”
Stanford, National’s education and immigration spokesperson, said there will be an increased reliance on migrants but there also needs to be a focus on producing and retaining our own talent.
“The most important thing about immigration is that Kiwis don’t leave and we provide the opportunities for them to stay.”
Education is a key to creating home-grown talent, but Stanford said there are worrying statistics of secondary school leavers not having functional numeracy and literacy skills and what pathways there are to employment.
“It’s a future economic crisis if we can’t get that right,” Stanford said.

  • Jonathan Leask